As Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems squabble about the tax levels needed to pay for their spending promises, the Green Party is calling for a radical overhaul of the tax system, including a land value tax to replace council tax and business rates.
Cornwall Greens say this would do much to address Cornwall’s massive inequalities in wealth and housing, as well as relieving pressure on small businesses that currently face cripplingly high levels of business rates.
Karen La Borde, Green Party candidate for Camborne and Redruth, said:
“Half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population, and very little tax is paid on the vast amounts of wealth accumulated in land ownership – in fact, land is often bought up by the ultra-wealthy as a way of avoiding tax.
“Rather than taxing this extreme wealth, our system allows landlords to sit on land while the tax burden for providing public services falls on council tax-payers and small businesses. Council tax is still based on bands set in 1991, which means that people with multi-million pound properties on the Helford River – many of them second homes – pay a far lower proportion of tax than people in one-bedroom flats in Camborne and Redruth.
“We think large the large landowners who own so much of Cornwall – including the Duchy of Cornwall and Viscount Falmouth – should be paying a share of tax that properly reflects their huge accumulated wealth. And one great advantage of a land tax is that it is impossible for the ultra-wealthy to avoid paying it via complex tax-avoidance schemes.”
Tom Scott, standing for the Green PArty in Truro and Falmouth, said:
“Many of the commercial properties in Falmouth and Truro are owned by large landowners and property companies based in London or elsewhere. A combination of high rents and high business rates means that the small independent businesses that should be the life blood of our high streets are squeezed out. Many of these properties are now standing empty while their owners pay no tax at all on them.
“A land value tax would make it much less attractive for large landowners to sit on commercial property, and would also help to fix the extreme inequality in the domestic property market. While wealthy private landlords have been buying up huge numbers of properties in Truro and Falmouth as an investment, young people here face a lifetime of housing insecurity and high prices.”
The Land Value Tax proposed by the Greens would be a single tax that would capture the real value of land, replacing the multiple taxes that currently exist. Among its many benefits would be that it would bring more brownfield sites into use, discourage speculative land banking by supermarkets and other large companies, and promote more efficient, sustainable use of land.